What do you call a formerly starving-to-death lawyer?
So many attorneys at law, so few billable hours. Which is why so many of the local bar are endlessly elbowing one another to get those black robes – not to mention the $172,000 salary for 35 weeks of “work” per year, behind which comes the pension and the pretty much free health care.
And don’t forget, the otherwise-unemployable hack judges of Massachusetts have gotten three $6,250 pay raises in the last year, with another one slated to kick in July 1.
So today, let’s consider one hack’s 12-year quest for a judgeship, which ended recently with his confirmation to early retirement on the probate court.
C’mon down, Paul Sushchyk.
For Paul, the fifth time was the charm.
Not that his academic credentials weren’t stellar, you understand: Mount Wachusett Community College, Westfield State and Western New England College School of Law. Wow!
In 2005, at age 50, Sushchyk made his first bid for early retirement – he went for the probate court. In a no-doubt-unrelated development, he also wrote a $500 check that year to the man who was appointing judges back then – Willard Mitt Romney.
Romney didn’t seek reelection, so his lieutenant governor Muffy Healey jumped into the fight. Sushchyk was Johnny on the spot — $500. He threw in another $210 for her running mate, Reed Hillman.
Sadly for Sushchyk, Muffy muffed her chance, and Deval Patrick became governor. Sushcyk waited until 2009 before he applied for early retirement again. The Judicial Nominating Commission didn’t recommend him.
Deval was reelected in 2010, so Sushchyk did what every other hack in Worcester was doing back then – he gave $50 to soon-to-be-disgraced Lt. Gov. Tim “Crash” Murray.
After having done the right thing by the ruling Democrats, Sushchyk gave it another shot in 2014. He applied again for the probate court. Once more, he was nixed by the JNC.
But then Charlie “Tall Deval” Baker got elected, and Sushchyk figured he was back in business, or actually, out of business, and into some robes. No heavy lifting, that’s what being a Massachusetts state judge is all about. Actually, no lifting, period.
In 2016, Sushchyk applied for a judgeship for the fourth time – this time he went for the Superior Court. Again, the JNC nixed his bid.
But on May 2, 2016, two very, very significant events happened in the extinguished career of Paul Sushcyk.
Number one, he wrote a $500 check to Tall Deval.
Number two, he wrote a $500 check to Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, the patron saint of the Worcester County hackerama, the Joan of Arc of the 508 area code.
Ding ding ding ding! On Dec. 1, 2016, he applied for a vacancy on… the Westborough District Court.
At this point, everything gets a little hazy. Even though Sushchyk applied for a district court judgeship, he was nominated for his first choice, the probate court. I emailed him last week, seeking clarification, but I received no response.
In my email, I told him I was writing a how-to column for hungry hacks (although I didn’t quite put it that way), and that I was wondering if he thought his twin $500 donations in 2016 had greased the skids for his long-sought journey to the public trough. I pointed out how his tenacity in seeking to get a “job” in the judiciary might prove a good example for other wannabe payroll Charlies.
“Your experience seems quite illustrative,” I emailed him Wednesday, “which is why I’m seeking your input.”
But he did not respond. The judge crossed the river into the paradise of gainful unemployment, and then blew up the bridge behind him before any other starving barristers could follow him into the promised land of no work.
So I decided to ask the governor if those $500 donations had turned the tide after the first four unsuccessful attempts. Tall Deval’s office responded:
“The administration was pleased to nominate Paul Sushchyk, who was unanimously approved by the Governor’s Council for the probate court.”
In case you were wondering, in total Paul Sushchyk spent $4,175 on political contributions before he got his lifetime $170,000-a-year sinecure. On July 1, he’ll get that money back — and then some – when the greed-crazed judges grab their fourth $6,250 pay raise in 18 months.
Moral of story: In the halls of justice, the only justice is in the halls.